IOM President Harvey V. Fineberg was recently elected chairman of an international panel charged with assessing the global response to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, including the performance of the World Health Organization (WHO). The panel also will review the functioning of the International Health Regulations adopted in 2005 to prevent and control threats to global health. As chair of the 29-person committee, Dr. Fineberg will preside over the discussions and represent the committee before the World Health Assembly meeting in May, where he will answer questions from WHO's Member States.
The review committee, which met for the first time April 12-14, 2010, in Geneva, is tasked with identifying lessons and making recommendations to improve the future performance and response to influenza and other pandemics and urgent global public health events. The WHO has been criticized for its system of classifying the phases of a pandemic and for its response to the H1N1 influenza of 2009. Among other considerations, Dr. Fineberg said, “the committee will consider carefully the question of pandemic definition, including the aspect of severity as well as spread.”
The panel is expected to meet again in the summer and fall of 2010 and to release its final report in May 2011.